Marketers Use New Tech to Leverage Data From Smart TVs

Smart TVs have become a boon to data collectors and their marketer-clients, who are using new technology to identify what people are watching on Internet TV, sometimes without their knowledge. San Francisco-based Samba TV, for example, which has collected viewing data from 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States, has raised $40 million in venture capital. About a dozen television manufacturers have inked deals with Samba TV to embed its software in some of their sets. Continue reading Marketers Use New Tech to Leverage Data From Smart TVs

Roku Refreshes Product Line to Compete With Apple, Amazon

Following its recent Nasdaq debut, Roku is updating its product line with new specs and pricing in addition to a number of software enhancements. Roku’s entire line — from its streaming stick to home entertainment hub — is being upgraded. The $30 Roku Express gets a new processor, while the $50 Roku Streaming Stick now features a remote with voice control. The $40 Roku Express+ is the next step up from the Roku Express, offering analog component connections for those with older TVs. And the high-end 4K Roku Ultra will remain $100 for the holiday season (it recently had a $30 reduction), and gets a refresh for its remote and a wider selection of streaming options.  Continue reading Roku Refreshes Product Line to Compete With Apple, Amazon

DisneyNOW Consolidates Three Popular Kids Apps Into One

Until now, Disney had separate Watch apps for children 2-14 that featured entertainment content from the Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior. Now, the company has consolidated all three into a single app, thus boosting its pay-TV business. DisneyNOW will offer full episodes and live streaming from all the networks to customers whose cable, Internet TV, satellite or telco providers are participating. In addition to DisneyNOW, the company reportedly plans to create its own movie streaming service when its deal with Netflix expires in 2019. Continue reading DisneyNOW Consolidates Three Popular Kids Apps Into One

Google Expands Its YouTube TV Service to 10 New Markets

On Thursday, Google launched its YouTube TV service in 10 new markets, including Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Phoenix and Washington D.C. The company says it is now streaming live local programming to more than a third of the U.S. The $35-per-month Internet TV service offers live local feeds from major broadcast networks ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, in addition to cable networks such as AMC, ESPN, IFC and USA. The new service, which initially launched in April, is now available in 15 U.S. markets. Continue reading Google Expands Its YouTube TV Service to 10 New Markets

Charter and CenturyLink to Debut Streaming Skinny Bundles

Charter Communications and CenturyLink are the latest operators to introduce streaming skinny-bundle options for consumers looking for alternatives to conventional pay TV. The new services join a crowded field as an increasing number of companies face the challenges involved with attracting cord cutters and new customers. Charter will test its $20 per month Spectrum Stream that offers local broadcast and cable channels, VOD titles and optional premium channels. Meanwhile, CenturyLink Stream has introduced bundles that range from $15 per month to the Ultimate 45+ channel package for $45 per month. Continue reading Charter and CenturyLink to Debut Streaming Skinny Bundles

AMC, Discovery, Viacom Mull a Sports-Free Streaming Bundle

Cable programmers such as AMC Networks, Discovery Communications and Viacom find themselves in competition with streaming Internet TV services. Consumers are cutting off expensive pay TV bundles in favor of skinny ones, and streaming services such as YouTube TV and Hulu are among those that pare down the offerings, leaving cable programmers in the lurch. In response, four to six pay TV providers are now in negotiations to create a new online service devoid of sports programming that would cost less than $20 per month.

Continue reading AMC, Discovery, Viacom Mull a Sports-Free Streaming Bundle

YouTube TV Aims to Convert Cord-Nevers to New Subscribers

YouTube TV has premiered in several cities with 40+ channels of entertainment, news and sports at $35/month. The aim is to entice so-called cord-nevers — millennials who have never paid for cable — to subscribe, to watch on-demand on any device. YouTube has already reached one billion viewers, so if even a tiny fraction signs up, it could be a win for advertisers and YouTube owner Google. Among its competition in the Internet TV market are Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Sony PlayStation Vue. Continue reading YouTube TV Aims to Convert Cord-Nevers to New Subscribers

DirecTV Now Experiences Rocky Start During its Initial Launch

Since AT&T launched DirecTV Now on November 30, the streaming service has experienced its share of difficulties, including missing features, billing issues and interruptions. The streaming service, developed as a replacement for cable/satellite, offers access to about 60 channels for $35/month and about 120 channels for $70/month. The service competes in the same arena as Sling TV and PlayStation Vue. AT&T acknowledges the problems faced during the launch, but chief technology officer Enrique Rodriguez states that most issues have been addressed. Continue reading DirecTV Now Experiences Rocky Start During its Initial Launch

Netflix Push For Global Expansion Pays Off in Subscriptions

On the heels of its aggressive Q4 move into international regions, Netflix saw an uptick in subscribers totaling 5.12 million abroad and 1.93 million domestically. The numbers beat Wall Street’s expectations and account for Netflix’s biggest quarterly subscription growth in its history. The company is now operating in almost every country and every territory globally. To pump up content, in the coming year, Netflix plans to invest $6 billion in original programming, up from $5 billion last year. Continue reading Netflix Push For Global Expansion Pays Off in Subscriptions

Hulu Relaunches with Live TV and UI, Home Screen Redesign

Hulu’s relaunch will feature a home screen with a personalized lineup that will be determined by the user’s set preferences and past viewing behavior. Among the options for that lineup are current TV shows, Hulu’s streaming exclusives and partner networks’ on-demand offerings. What won’t be there is a live TV feed or a traditional grid guide that allows the user to scroll through channels. In 2017, Hulu will offer live TV to its users for less than $40, while retaining its ad-supported and ad-free on-demand subscription plans. Continue reading Hulu Relaunches with Live TV and UI, Home Screen Redesign

Sony CEO Reveals Plan to Make Products ‘Objects of Desire’

During his CES presentation, Sony president and CEO Kazuo Hirai revealed plans for the company’s future, including an emphasis on creating personal experiences for customers, generating sustainable growth for the Sony brand through continued innovation, and developing new products as “objects of desire.” “When you experience one of our products, interact with one of them, we want to generate an emotional response,” he explained. Hirai recognized Mike Fasulo, president/COO of Sony North America, for his “incredible efforts in this pursuit,” and announced the company’s new 4K OLED offerings, new 4K Bravias and Android TV OS. Continue reading Sony CEO Reveals Plan to Make Products ‘Objects of Desire’

AT&T is Acquiring Quickplay Media to Power TV Everywhere

AT&T plans to purchase Quickplay Media from Madison Dearborn Partners. Quickplay specializes in powering over-the-top video and TV Everywhere services. The acquisition will build upon the existing relationship between the two companies and enhance future AT&T video delivery initiatives. Quickplay currently supports AT&T’s U-verse TV Everywhere offering and will support upcoming streaming offers: DirecTV Now, DirecTV Mobile and DirecTV Preview. “Our strategy is to deliver video content however, whenever and wherever,” said John Stankey, CEO, AT&T Entertainment Group. Continue reading AT&T is Acquiring Quickplay Media to Power TV Everywhere

Warner Bros. Buys DramaFever, Considers New OTT Services

Warner Bros. has acquired streaming-video subscription service DramaFever from Japan’s SoftBank Group. DramaFever was launched in 2009 with a focus on Korean TV shows and eventually movies. Today, it reaches 20 countries and offers a wide range of series, films and kids programming available in multiple languages. WB may use the acquisition, expected to close during Q2 2016, to launch new OTT services such as a new offering with content from Machinima or an expanded subscription service with programming licensed from other countries. Continue reading Warner Bros. Buys DramaFever, Considers New OTT Services

Sling TV: Redesigned Interface Highlights On-Demand Content

Sling TV, the Internet TV service from Dish Network, unveiled a new user interface at CES this week. The service is shifting emphasis from live television to on-demand content, with a new menu section that allows people to save a list of their favorite TV shows and movies and search by content, rather than by channel. Sling also tweaked the interface so that customers can discover the add-on packages of channels and purchase them directly from their TV or smartphone. Continue reading Sling TV: Redesigned Interface Highlights On-Demand Content

CEO Launches Netflix in 130 Countries During CES Keynote

Netflix turned on the world, adding 130 new countries, during the time its CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings delivered the opening day keynote at CES in Las Vegas. The addition of these new markets grows Netflix’s global footprint from 60 to 190 territories as the company reimagines itself as a global television network. Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos covered many of the technological, economic, business and creative innovations driving their success in a world where Hastings observed, “Tune in has been replaced by personal choice.” Continue reading CEO Launches Netflix in 130 Countries During CES Keynote

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